PASADENA — Sakuji Tanaka, the president of Rotary International — one of the world’s largest humanitarian service organizations — will ride on a float in the Tournament of Roses Parade on New Year’s Day in Pasadena.

Sakuji and Kyoko Tanaka

The float will honor Rotary members’ international service.

Tanaka is a retired businessman from Yashio, Saitama Prefecture. He has been a member of Rotary for 37 years, and the international organization’s third president from Japan. He said he would like to see Rotary “continue its vital work as the force to improve communities around the world.”

Rotary members will showcase their dedication to international humanitarian service, peace and a world without polio during the Tournament of Roses Parade on Jan. 1. From delivering life-saving polio vaccinations in India to ensuring clean water in Myanmar to building schools for Uganda’s children, members of Rotary travel the globe emulating their motto, “Service Above Self.”

The float, which is themed “All the Places We Go,” will feature a central world globe representing the community and global service contributed by Rotary’s international network of 1.2 million volunteers. As the globe spins and gears turn, lotus and cherry blossoms and giant origami “peace cranes” will inform millions of parade viewers around the world of Rotary’s commitment to peace.

This year’s Rose Parade grand marshal is world-famous primatologist Dr. Jane Goodall, who is also a Rotary celebrity ambassador for polio eradication — Rotary’s top philanthropic goal.

Parade viewers can also take part by uploading photos to Rotary’s polio eradication website,, to be edited into the constantly expanding promotional spot.

Since launching its PolioPlus program in 1985 and helping to establish the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, Rotary has made tremendous progress toward its goal. The incidence of polio has plummeted more than 99 percent, from more than 350,000 cases in 1988 to fewer than 700 in 2011.

About Sakuji Tanaka

Tanaka  is the former chair of the Daika Company and former president of the National Household Papers Distribution Association of Japan. He also has been vice president of the Yashio City Chamber of Commerce.

A member of the Rotary Club of Yashio since its charter in 1975, Tanaka has served RI as a director, Rotary Foundation trustee, chair of the 2009 Birmingham Convention Committee, member of the Polio Eradication Advocacy Task Force and Future Vision Committee, and regional Rotary Foundation coordinator, district governor, and training leader. Working with his district, he helped to construct a school building in Bangladesh.

Tanaka has received the RI Service Above Self Award and the Foundation’s Citation for Meritorious Service and Distinguished Service Award. He and his wife, Kyoko, are Paul Harris fellows, benefactors of the Permanent Fund, major donors, and members of the Arch C. Klumph Society. In addition, Tanaka has established an endowed Rotary Peace Fellowship.

The Tanakas have been married since 1963 and have three children and seven grandchildren.

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